Updated on 21 August 2015
The following article has since been reinstated by NZ Herald
15,000 “severely housing deprived” people live in Auckland: Council report (2014)
“Pregnant women are among the rising number of homeless people on city streets, with some sleeping rough just weeks out from giving birth,” says Lauren Priestley, an NZME News Service reporter.
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‘Pregnant women among rising number of homeless in NZ cities’
8:52 PM Thursday Aug 20, 2015 – [cached on Aug 20, 2015 at 14:13:30 GMT.]
By: Lauren Priestley, an NZME News Service reporter.
Pregnant women are among the rising number of homeless people on city streets, with some sleeping rough just weeks out from giving birth.
National Women’s Hospital Maori midwifery adviser Mahia Winder said she was currently looking after three “streeties” who are pregnant.
She has been treating pregnant homeless women at parks, roadsides, brothels and rehab centres for about 10 years – the only one in Auckland doing the job.
An Auckland Council report released in 2014 showed there were about 15,000 “severely housing deprived” people in Auckland, but there are no official figures recording the number of pregnant women in the group.
Ms Winder said the number of pregnant women might be rising, but only in line with the steady increase of homeless people year on year.
And the main concern for the soon-to-be-mums is not usually the impending birth, but survival.
“Usually having the baby is probably about the last thing on their minds. There’s more stress in the fact they’ve got nowhere to live and are usually cold and hungry and broke and often have addiction problems.
IMAGE: A pregnant woman is holding her tummy with both hands. Caption: National Women’s Hospital Maori midwifery adviser Mahia Winder said she was currently looking after three “streeties” who are pregnant. Photo / iStock / Getty Images. http://media.nzherald.co.nz/webcontent/image/jpg/201534/iStock_000060373600_Medium_300x200.jpg
“I probably am the only one who looks after homeless pregnant people [in Auckland]. For me, I’m looking after three streeties at the moment who are pregnant and there’s probably a couple more out there seeking midwifery care.”
The lack of emergency housing set up for pregnant homeless women in Auckland was part of the issue, Ms Winder said.
She said new mothers also had difficulty finding housing or emergency accommodation once they gave birth.
“There is nowhere specifically for pregnant women, we haven’t got places for women with mental health issues either, or lots of people that need specialist care.”
Emergency housing provider Danielle Bergin, of Island Child Charitable Trust which usually takes in homeless families, said living on the street or in temporary accommodation was particularly hard for pregnant women.
She was currently housing a mother with a 4-month-old baby who had been pregnant when she applied for a home.
About a year ago, Ms Bergin took in a 28-year-old woman who was heavily pregnant. The woman had the baby and then was forced to return to the emergency housing room in Pt England.
“Here we are a year later, has anything changed? I’m finding it so hard to get the houses now. For families or mothers with babies I’m finding it incredibly hard, there are such long delays.
“There are some serious delays in people having their applications completed and they think they’re on the [social housing] waiting list but they’re not.
“It’s very worrying for women who are so close to birth, there is a nesting instinct. I do think it causes undue stress.”
Lifewise service manager Corie Haddock said the sector was seeing an annual increase in homelessness and marginalised groups, including pregnant women, were the hardest hit.
The organisation was currently looking after one pregnant woman and has helped women who were more than 8 months’ pregnant in the past, he said.
It was “hard to quantify” whether more homeless women were becoming pregnant or more pregnant women finding themselves without a home, he said.
“I think they all want to be good mothers so that pressure of not having somewhere safe and secure to live and for their baby to live must have a detrimental impact on them.
“[We help] anyone and everyone that comes through the door needing support. We’ve had situations in the past where we’ve had young women that are pregnant and I guarantee we’ll have situations in the future as well.” – NZME. Copyright the author and/or the relevant media/ syndicator.